Youth Radio talks with this son of two 1960s revolutionaries

By Bianca Yarborough

I always had a sense of pride about the Black Panther Party through the people I encountered throughout my life and the different books I read about the Movement. Even though I knew the message of the Black Panther Party, there was a part of me that was incomplete because I wanted to hear first hand about the obstacles that were overcome in order for the Movement to accomplish its goals. So when I interviewed the son of a Black Panther leader who lived by the principles of the Movement, I found the missing piece to the puzzle. Young Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. is the son of two revolutionaries, Akua Njeri and slain Black Panther Deputy Chair Fred Hampton. Although Young Chairman Fred follows many of the principles of the Movement, he also has a movement of his own. Young Chairman Fred is working to free political prisoners from correctional facilities.

Youth Radio’s Bianca Yarborough: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Young Chairman Fred: My name is Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr., and I am President and Chair of the POCC, which is an acronym for Prisoner Of Conscience Committee (http://www.POCConline.com). In the eyes of the state, I am defined as a three-strike offender. One, for simply being African, two for being the son of two freedom fighters… and three for continuing to fight for the liberation of my people. ... I am also what I refer to as an unleashed political prisoner, after serving nine years behind enemy lines for two trumped up charges of aggravated arson in 1992. My real crime, quote unquote crime, is fighting for the liberation of my people. The Free Fred campaign is not a success for the fact that we still have forces such as Mumia Abu Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Ruchell Cinque Magee, Move Nine, and just African colonized people in general, held captive inside these concentration camps…We still are putting forward the work, demanding the freedom of all political prisoners of war, prisoners of conscience.

YR: What do you think about the state of politics in America today? Do you think it is improving or do you think that we are just stuck or not going anywhere?

YCF: ... A lot of contradictions, a lot of attacks going down on African and colonized people for a long time…. under such guises as war on drugs, war on gangs, war on guns, or police brutality, or slavery, or gentrification…. It’s kind of like what Malcolm X said, that the U.S. democracy is hypocrisy. It is a front to make you believe that you are free, but the deal is, right now, this day in the game, the covers are being pulled off and people are coming to grips that they can not afford the luxury no more to dismiss this war on African and colonized people… It’s brutal, but again it ain't no more ducking and dodging issues of planted euphemisms or planting nice terms to the brutal reality we have been going through for a long time.

YR: What are your personal beliefs about the war that we just had in Iraq? Do you believe that it was worth fighting for the cause or was it another reason for us to go and be imperialistic?

YCF: …You see, even before they even made these attacks in Iraq… they already had contracts to rebuild places that they were going to attack. That is a tactic that U.S. imperialism has used for a long period of time, whether it be in the colonized community, in Detroit or in Oakland, or across-seas somewhere. Create chaos and restore order. The whole economy is built up upon that. It is not any war about democracy or none of that…and you got to be up front and lay it out.

YR: What do you think about Al Sharpton running for President? Do you really believe that he has a good chance? And if he is elected, do you think there is a possibility that something might happen to him? And how do you think the American public would respond to having a black president?

YCF: … We know that Minister Huey P. Newton said that power is the ability to define a phenomenon and make it act in a desired manner... Electoral politics, that is a phenomenon, and we have to define that phenomenon. And if we are fooling with it, we have to make it work in our own interest. It has to be the dog wagging the tail; the tail is not wagging the dog. …

YR: How do you think that Hip Hop has influenced politics, the way people act, the way people think, and the things they believe in?

YCF: Hip Hop is a phenomenon. We have to keep the reigns on it tight, because people of the state would incorrectly define the phenomenon and make it act in the disinterest of the people. …Hip Hop, they would take it and, like Malcolm said, they would try to stop it. And if they can not stop it, they would try to co-opt it, endorse it, change it, make it something it is not to be. We see that happening right under our noses right now. We have to recognize the potential of this phenomenon and its effectiveness…. This is something that the masses of people are engaged in. I can’t tell you how many brothers and sisters, people in general, became familiar with the “Free Fred Campaign” from listening to Dead Prez’s “Behind Enemy Lines” piece on “Let’s get Free”…. When we use the word political, we are not limiting ourselves to what the ruling class defines as politics, meaning Democrat or Republican or plantation politics. We have to be clear what Fred Hampton Sr. stated, that everything is political…and we must be able to internalize this and recognize that Hip Hop is political. ... Everything is political, music, everything.

YR: What advice would you give someone who is about to go off to college or the world who wants to make a difference and wants to build up the African American community and the community in general?

YCF: Minister Huey P. Newton stated that bourgeois skills should be taken and utilized in the interest of the masses. Earlier today, we talked with some students from a school in North Side Chicago. They are actually working on different prisoners’ cases as a class project. They are upping the ante. They are not satisfied with being trained; they are willing to be educated now…. We cannot afford the luxury to be trained anymore. As colonized people, you may be subjected to some real deal life lessons like get forty one shots pumped in your back by the pigs, or getting pulled over and framed on a trumped up charge and spend the rest of your life behind enemy lines. Do what the Black Panthers did in the 1960s, turn these communities into classrooms and use all the skills that we have, and utilize it for the interest of our people… That is the best education I am talking about.